British scientists being ‘frozen out’ of EU research due to NI row, claims MP

Bill Cash says UK still not being made full member of Horizon Europe science programme linked to dispute over NI protocol

UK scientists are being “frozen out” of the £80bn EU research programme Horizon Europe because of the ongoing dispute over the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol, a House of Commons committee has claimed.

Participation in the science research programme is being hampered by the ongoing dispute, the European scrutiny committee chair, Sir Bill Cash, said.

UK scientists, who previously led European research consortiums, campaigned hard to have a seat in the Horizon Europe programme and last autumn came close to being left high and dry in a dispute over the funding mechanism for future participation in the £80bn programme.

But now it has emerged that while a deal to include them was struck in the wider trade and cooperation deal in December, associate membership of Horizon Europe has still not been ratified.

“It’s been the best part of a year and British research institutions remain frozen out of key projects and funding despite agreement on participation,” said Cash, a veteran Eurosceptic. “With each passing day the opportunities are missed, British institutions are left high and dry while science marches on without them and the returns on our financial contribution edge lower.

“This needs to be addressed swiftly, so we’re calling on the government to lay out the steps it is taking to ensure UK participation is formalised.”

The committee’s Brexit Divorce Bill report claimed the UK is effectively being penalised because of the row over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Other countries outside the EU including Norway were given their formal association status in September but the commission has hinted that UK ratification is being delayed until the wider protocol dispute is over.

“It appears that the delays on the EU side are not merely procedural, but also linked to the on-going political disagreements between the EU and the government over the Northern Ireland protocol,” said the committee.

The European Commission has insisted that the UK is being treated like a full associate member of Horizon, but the UK is in effect being locked out because funding for UK participants “can only be signed once the association has come into force”, it said.


Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Northern Ireland parties play down Stormont being revived
Leaders voice scepticism about ending 998-day impasse, leaving obstacle to Brexit deal

Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent

11, Oct, 2019 @2:47 PM

Article image
Brexit: Gove claims internal market bill protects UK integrity from EU 'threat'
Cabinet Office minister says new legislation ‘entirely consistent with the rule of law’

Nicola Slawson

12, Sep, 2020 @9:56 AM

Article image
Barnier rejects Johnson's claims over Irish Sea trade checks
EU’s chief negotiator says UK agreed to checks as part of withdrawal agreement

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

27, Jan, 2020 @6:42 PM

Article image
Brexit threatens UK's reputation for scientific research, watchdog says
Leadership is ‘sorely lacking’ in key areas such as robotics and climate change, parliament’s spending monitor warns

Rajeev Syal

15, Nov, 2017 @12:01 AM

Article image
Brexit weekly briefing: no evidence of progress on deal – despite claims
Boris Johnson has been ‘taken aback’ by scale and complexity of Irish backstop riddle

Jon Henley Europe correspondent

24, Sep, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Brexit: EU threatens legal action against UK unless it rewrites internal market bill – as it happened
News updates: European commission says passing the bill would constitute ‘extremely serious violation of withdrawal agreement and international law’

Andrew Sparrow

10, Sep, 2020 @5:15 PM

Article image
Brexit: No 10 refuses to consider plans to have EU staff at British ports
Compromise proposal for ports serving Ireland is intended to help solve Brexit border issue

Lisa O'Carroll and Heather Stewart

11, Sep, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
UK risks losing contract for new climate research centre because of Brexit
Proposed centre with up to 250 jobs is linked to EU Copernicus satellite programme

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

26, Sep, 2020 @9:09 AM

Article image
UK’s expensive visa fees 'could deter NHS staff and scientists'
High cost of entry under immigration overhaul will put off applicants, says thinktank

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

20, Feb, 2020 @6:37 PM

Article image
Queen's speech doesn't help British businesses frozen out of EU space contracts
Measures outlined in space industry bill are not enough to alleviate the problems Brexit has created for the industry in Britain, say companies

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent

23, Jun, 2017 @2:07 PM